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Hide and seek at the museum!

2 February 2010 by Lisa

This week is a bumper week for our memories of the World Museum as we continue to pull out historic gems from the museum’s archives from the last 150 years. We have two interesting tales for this week in history. Firstly a report of ‘rowdyism and almost unimaginable crowds’ from 2 February 1935, when the Liverpool Post quoted museum director Dr. Douglas Allan complaining that the museum was overcrowded and disorderly on Sundays:

Black and white photo of Dr Douglas Allan writing

Dr. Douglas Allan: preferred promenading to hide-and-seek.

“…according to Dr. Allan, the number of people who crowd into the museum on Sundays is becoming unmanageable.  Many of the visitors are very young children, who occupy their time mainly in games of hide-and-seek… It is proposed, therefore, that children must be accompanied by guardians.  The limitation of the total attendance at any one time to a figure  consistent with both convenience and safety is also apparently desirable.  Is this thronging of the museum an indication that there are not sufficient facilities in other directions for indoor and outdoor relaxation on Sundays?”

and there was more…

” Disorder at the museum. Sunday Crowds of nearly 7,000: ‘Hide and seek’ round cases. Following complaints of rowdyism and almost unimaginable crowds at the Liverpool Museums on Sundays, Liverpool Libraries, Museums, Arts and Music Committee yesterday decided to make recommendations to the Council. There was only one door by which exit to the street could be obtained, and the fact that it took twenty to twenty-five minutes to clear the building raised a serious position if any accident occurred.

Answering questions, Dr. Allan said that of these 7,000 persons more than 3,000 were children whose ages ranged from three to twelve years.  Many of them played hide-and-seek round the cases.  A large number of young men and women used the museum for promenading, and the number of people who were visiting the museum for the purpose of inspecting the exhibits was less than 4,000.

The committee decided to recommend to the Council that children should not be admitted to the museums on Sunday afternoons unless accompanied by adults, and that when the attendance reached 5,000, further admissions should be regulated according to the numbers leaving.”

Fun and games preventing promenading at the museum? That would never do! It would have been great to see what Dr. Allan would have thought of all the children who will no doubt come along to enjoy our new science exhibition, Plantastic!, opening next week!

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